one day, two social scientists were geeking out about how the words we use shape the way we think and behave. Emily said to Bari, "why can't we do something with language, culture, and design?" Bari replied, "we can."
And so they did.

savvy world traveler and collector of stories, Jean came along...and then there were three.


Emily hudson richter

Emily moved from Los Angeles to rural Missouri and then to Chicago, which gave her a unique and slightly off-beat perspective on people and life. She obtained her BA in anthropology and archaeology at Washington University and received a Master’s degree in social science at the University of Chicago.

Emily worked in not-for-profit and research at the Field Museum and the Chicago Botanic Garden before pursuing a passion in education. She became a teacher and mentor, collected another MA, had a trio of kids, and now has found her life’s work as a co-founder at word. combining fresh sociocultural perspective with impactful storytelling and deep human insight. She is passionate about communication and empowering people to express themselves in authentic and meaningful ways. Food and reading and music occupy the rest of her brainspace, in that order.



bari wieselman schulman, phd

Bari is a social scientist, designer, and writer with deep experience in human-centered research and design. Her high-intensity creative and analytical mind and keen sensitivity to cultures, trends, and worldviews fueled leadership roles at e-Lab / Sapient, Insight Product Development, Razorfish, Panorama Innovation, and thinkMAGENTA.

It is her deep-seated passion for creative expression, the power of words, and wrangling complexity that have led her to co-found word., where she creates compelling human-centered solutions and language-centered designs.

Bari earned her doctorate in developmental psychology from the University of Chicago, and a dual Bachelor of Arts in psychology and Spanish from the University of Rochester. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband and two children. They are foodies, readers, photographers, explorers, and Real Madrid fans.



jean zelt

Jean is an avid traveler, reader, writer, hockey player, and beer drinker, not necessarily in that order.

As a natural explorer with a keen interest in people’s stories, a desire to make things, and a commitment to good business practices, Jean has spent most of her career in design research and strategy. Thanks to degrees in writing (University of Pittsburgh), design (Carnegie Mellon), and business administration (Kellogg School of Management), creativity and practicality have always complemented one another in her work.

Still, she has remained a language nerd at heart and jumped at the chance to form the wickedly witty triumvirate behind word.

A native of rural Pennsylvania, Jean studied in Pittsburgh, did a couple of stints as an expat in Asia, and now calls Chicago home. Her wanderlust keeps her moving about the world, but the Windy City is where her heart is, along with her boyfriend and their French bulldog.